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Responding to negative reviews is difficult. Bad reviews hurt and sometimes they can be downright cruel. While it’s natural to get upset about your negative reviews, it’s important not to lose your cool or feel like retaliating. | Source: Freepik
Responding to negative reviews is difficult. Bad reviews hurt and sometimes they can be downright cruel. While it’s natural to get upset about your negative reviews, it’s important not to lose your cool or feel like retaliating. | Source: Freepik

How do you respond to a negative review?

Customers are increasingly relying on online reviews. BRIDGET BROWN says it’s crucial business owners understand how to handle negative feedback.

Reviews matter – it’s a topic that’s been written about and studied extensively in recent years.

A study by the Spiegel Research Institute demonstrated that 95 per cent of customers read online reviews to make ‘informed’ purchasing decisions.

Positive reviews can triple the chance someone is going to purchase a product from your jewellery store.

I’m aware of another study that suggests 84 per cent of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, which sounds unusual until you consider that it isn’t the evolved ‘rational’ part of our brain which determines how trustworthy reviews are - it’s the shortcut-loving ‘emotional’ brain.

One negative review can seriously damage a business. A series of negative reviews can end a business – it’s extremely difficult to overcome negative word-of-mouth, and when it’s on full display for the world to see, that’s a recipe for disaster.

Stop the bleeding
"A wise man once said, 'never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference."

Dissatisfied customers tend to tell between nine and 15 people about their negative experience and that’s exactly how this negative word-of-mouth spreads.

If one of these disgruntled customers appears on your online business profile, usually managed by Google, and leaves a one-star review it’s important you quickly attempt to rectify the situation.

  • Reply immediately: Read the review closely and formulate a professional, measured reply as quickly as possible.

    A 2022 study from ReviewTrackers demonstrated that 53 per cent of people who leave a negative review expect to hear back from the business in one to seven days.

    No matter the circumstances reply letting them know you’re sorry to hear they had a poor experience. The next step is to inform them that you’ll follow up ‘offline’ with a phone call. This part is key!

    Referencing one-to-one communication acts as a signal to readers that there is more to the story than they’re seeing and encourages them to keep an open mind about your business.
     
  • Don’t argue with the review: A wise man once said, “never argue with a fool,onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”

    The audience reading your reviews is likely to lack context and will struggle to assess the nuances of the situation. Unless the reviewer’s point is totally egregious, for example making serious unfounded accusations, you stand to gain very little and have much more to lose by arguing with a ‘keyboard warrior.’

    The chances of you changing the mind of a customer disgruntled enough to leave a negative review with a simple reply is very low. For those uninvolved who read the exchange as an argument, you run the risk of appearing confrontational – which is not the experience customers want when dealing with a jewellery store!
     
  • Follow up: As soon as possible make contact with the customer who left a negative review and see what can be doneto rectify the situation.

    I recently worked with a business that experienced a detrimental one-star review after dedicating many weeks to improving its business rating on Google.

    The owner of the business got in contact with the reviewer and quickly discovered the negative experience stemmed from a misunderstanding. The customer was happy to remove the review once the misunderstanding was resolved, which is always the end goal in managing a negative review.

    Remember that you aren’t getting in contact with the disgruntled customer to ‘defend’ your business or to win a fight – your aim is for them to remove the review so that your online reputation is salvaged.
Know your rights

I was recently able to assist another business in removing several negative reviews simply by examining Google’s terms of service.

Google will remove reviews that violate the TOS and other websites which host business reviews will do the same.

If someone leaves you a review that is fraudulent or false flag it as inappropriate. If flagging doesn’t work, you can escalate your issue.

Remember however that it isn’t ‘illegal’ to leave a mean-spirited review and it’s not ‘defamation’ to simply express a negative opinion. Business owners who pour their heart and soul into a jewelley store often react emotionally to negative reviews, it’s human nature. However, you must remain rational and not overreact, no matter how hurt your feelings may be.

There’s another important defense against negative reviews – an overwhelming number of positive reviews! Disgruntled customers are a part of business, especially for jewellery retailers.

Sometimes the best defence is a good offense, so ensure you’re actively collecting positive reviews wherever possible so that on the day that a negative review comes in, it’s dwarfed in comparison by the positive comments left behind by other customers.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bridget Brown

Contributor • Create That Copy & Marketing


Bridget Brown is founder of Create That Copy & Marketing, a Canadian marketing firm focused on generating leads and increasing sales and revenue for small businesses. Visit: createthatcopy.com

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